A Love Letter to LGBTQIA+ UMC Members and Friends

To the LGBTQIA+ saints in Christ Jesus who persevere in the United Methodist Church. Grace to you and peace from God our Creator and Jesus Christ, our divine sibling, The Way we know the love of God! We thank God for the work of the Holy Spirit in and through you, for the blessings you have been to God’s people, for your witness to the kin-dom of God, and for the steadfastness of your faith despite the many trials you have endured in the name of Christ. 

We extend our love to you on the eve of General Conference as our beloved denomination prepares once again to debate about us instead of talking with us. When many of us came out as LGBTQIA+ clergy and candidates for ministry just before General Conference 2016, we wrote a love letter to the church (hoping LGBTQIA+ folks in the pews, especially the young and most vulnerable would overhear). At that time we reminded delegates of their covenant with us as they prepared to vote about the “issues” of orientation and gender identity. Today, however, we write to queer folks in the pews (hoping the church will overhear) reminding you of the covenant we share with you. We are still in covenant with the denomination. That hasn’t changed. The church may or may not reject us in the coming days, but we will never reject you, beloved children of God. 

Living into our ministry in the openness of our full selves has been liberating. May you find the peace to live into your truth as well. Doing so makes some people uncomfortable, but God made you, in God’s image, to share the fullness of your gifts. You were baptized into this church and we reaffirm our promise to “surround you with a community of love and forgiveness, that you may grow in your service to others.” We did not make that commitment lightly. May you feel yourself enveloped by that love as the church debates our value and some people malign us all as incompatible and worse. 

None of the plans General Conference will consider affirms the holy value of queer lives and the contributions we make, have made, and will make in the life of the church. Even the queer clergy caucus leaders didn’t think that was a realistic goal at this time. You deserve better from your church and from us. We wrestle over what message it sends when we remain as leaders in a denomination that fails to acknowledge our full giftedness. We fear it might sound as if we are saying it’s ok to be treated this way. Our truth is quite the opposite. We are saying the calling is worth the sacrifice because the struggle is the path of the risen Christ—the path that leads to true, abundant life in Christ and Christian community. 

Remember how the risen Christ appeared to the first disciples. His wounds were still visible and not healed. He kept showing up, though unexpected and unknown. And he had a renewed sense of purpose, on his way somewhere new. We are convinced that God is leading us somewhere new. Together we follow Jesus on The Way. 

Regardless of the outcomes of General Conference, we will remain ordained by the same grace that was poured out upon you at your baptism. Neither of those blessings is revocable by human votes. We will remain in ministry with and for you and the LGBTQIA+ kids who will no doubt continue to be born into homophobic churches within and beyond the UMC connection. As the words of Thessalonian poet Dinos Christianopoulos have been translated and paraphrased into a mantra of liberation movements like ours, “They tried to bury us, they didn’t know we were seeds.” We are prolific and sprout up all over the place, not unlike those mustard seeds and the kin-dom of which Jesus preached. We have always been here for each other, and we will continue to do so. 

We have hope for the UMC because we have hope in God. The Spirit is at work as we head to St. Louis. God has shown us a way out of no way time and again. This time is no exception. God will continue to do great things in and through you; in and through us. Together we will find that the kin-dom of God is at hand. 

Your siblings in Christ, 

The United Methodist Queer Clergy Caucus

Rev. Austin Adkinson, Pacific Northwest

Rev. Kristin Stoneking, California-Nevada

Rev. Brian Adkins, California-Nevada

Rev. Dr. Althea Spencer Miller, New York

Rev. Alex da Silva Souto, New York 

Rev. Lois McCullen Parr, Northern Illinois

Hidden Faithful, Baltimore-Washington

Rev. Angie Cox, West Ohio

Rev. Ryan Scott, Oregon-Idaho

Rev. Dr. Janet Everhart, California-Nevada

Rev. Dr. Rebecca Ann Parker, Pacific Northwest 

Rev. Adrienne Stricker, Northern Illinois

The Rev Patricia Ross, California-Nevada

Rev. Kathleen Reynolds, New York

Rev. Anthony Fatta, California-Nevada

Rev. Fred Lewis, Iowa 

Taelor Hickey, West Ohio

Ashley Hawkins, Mountain Sky 

Rev. Angela Flanagan, Baltimore-Washington

Rev. Matthew Pearson, California-Nevada

Rev. Alyss M. Swanson, California-Nevada 

Rev. Dr. Richard W Moman, Indiana 

Hidden Faithful, Mississippi 

Rev Elizabeth Jones, Retired New York

Rev. Gregory D. Gross, Northern Illinois

Rev Cathlynn Law, Pacific Northwest

Rev. Terri Jane Stewart, Pacific Northwest

Rev. Michael Patzloff, Desert Southwest

Bonnie Beckonchrist, Northern Illinois

Rev. Daryl Blanksma, Oregon-Idaho

Rev. Dr. David E. Weekley, Oregon-Idaho (serving in NEAC)

Rev. Ardis Letey, New York

Rev. Dr. Emily B. Hall , New York

Kevin Highfield, Baltimore-Washington 

Rev. Sean McRoberts, Iowa

Rev. Taylor Gould, Oregon-Idaho

Angel Rivero, Seminarian  California-Nevada 

Rev. Denyse Barnes, California-Pacific

Hidden Faithful, Baltimore-Washington 

Pastor Dan Levine, New York

Hidden Faithful , Eastern PA

Hidden Faithful, Holston

Rev. Jeffrey Mullinix, West Ohio

Rev. Becca Girrell, New England 

Rev. Lea Matthews, New York 

Bishop Karen P. Oliveto, Mountain Sky 

Rev. Karen Dammann, PNW

Pastor Bob Klein, Desert Southwest

Rev. Britt Cox, Northern Illinois 

Rev. Karen S. Cook, New York

Hidden Faithful , Northern Illinois 

Rev. Kathleen Weber, Pacific Northwest

Rev. Joey Heath-Mason, Baltimore-Washington

Hidden Faithful, Greater New Jersey

Hidden Faithful , North Alabama

Sonya Davis, Pacific Northwest

Rev. Vivian Ruth Waltz, Deacon Upper New York

Reverend Sharon Moe, Pacific Northwest

Rev. Dr. Joshua M. Noblitt, Western North Carolina

Hidden Faithful, Holston 

Rev. Diane M. Kenaston, West Virginia

Rev. Nea Stepp, Iowa

Reverend Jay K Piercr, California-Nevada

Reverend Brenda S. Wills, Oregon-Idaho

Rev. Angie Kotzmoyer, Mountain Sky

Ann Hunt, Retired Elder, Great Plains

Rev. C. Michele Johns, California-Pacific serving in BWAC

Rev. Jay Williams, Ph.D., New England

Rev Bruce Lamb, New York 

Pastor Kai Greer, New York

Dion Marquit, Upper New York

Rev. Will Ed Green, Northern Illinois/Baltimore-Washington

J.J. Warren, Upper NY

T.C. Morrow, Baltimore-Washington

Rev. Dr. Edward Hansen, California-Pacific

Rev. Janet L. Hanson, Mountain Sky

Rev. David W. Meredith, West Ohio

Deborah Morgan, North Carolina

Rev. Anna Voinovich, Northern Illinois

Hidden Faithful, Minnesota

Rev. Chelsey D. Hillyer, Missouri

Rev. Katie Stickney, Pacific Northwest 

Hidden Faithful , Rio Texas

Hidden Faithful , Desert Southwest 

Peter Jabin, Diaconal Minister Pacific Northwest

Rev. Melinda E. Holloway, Pacific Northwest 

Rev. Kimberly Scott, Desert Southwest

Rev. Mary Klaehn, Desert Southwest 

Pastor Emily Pickens-Jones, California-Nevada

Pastor Jacey Pickens-Jones, California-Nevada

Pastor Jarell Wilson, Rio Texas

Rev. Dr. Jeanne Gayle Knepper, Oregon-Idaho

Rev. Tony Brown, Pacific Northwest

Rev. Wendy Joy Woodworth, Oregon-Idaho

Rev. Katie M Ladd, Pacific Northwest

Sarah Cobb, Memphis

Rev. Laura J. Young, West Ohio

Rev. Hannah Adair Bonner, Eastern Pennsylvania 

Pastor Mark Thompson, Michigan

Rev. Michael A. House, North Texas

Pastor Kathi Meyerson, New York

Rev. Dr. Joretta L Marshall, Mountain Sky

Rev. Dr. Joanne Carlson Brown, Pacific Northwest

Rev. J. Daniel Lewis, California-Pacific

Adam Marshall-Lopez, California-Pacific

Rev. Caiti Hamilton, California-Nevada

Rev. Martha E. Vink, New York

Rev Vicki Woods, New England

Rev. Margo Friend, West Virginia 

Kipp Nelson, Alabama-West Florida

Rev. Courtney McHill, Oregon-Idaho

Rev. Catherine Noellert, California-Nevada

Rev. Randa J. D'Aoust, California-Pacific

Rev. Nancy Goyings, California-Pacific

Hidden Faithful, Oregon Idaho

Rev. Amanda-Gayle Reed, West Virginia

Rev. Rachel Byers, Pacific Northwest

Caroline Morrison, Great Plains

Rev. James Carter, Pacific Northwest

Rev. Nea Stepp, Iowa

Rev. Marguerite K Jhonson, New York

Rev. Jan Bolerjack, Pacific Northwest

Rev. Kristan M. Burkert, Oregon-Idaho

Rev. Mark F. Sturgess, California-Pacific

Rob HerrmannCal-Nevada

Hidden Faithful, New England

Rev. Sean Delmore, New England

Rev. Brittany Isaac, Northern IL

Deacon Grant Swanson, Northern Illinois